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Looking Ahead
by John M. Roberts

Are lawmakers going to make needed changes or is politics going to continue to get in the way?

Social Security is no longer self supporting, and as millions of baby boomers begin to retire, the problems that are plaguing the system are getting worse and cannot continue to be neglected and left for future generations to fix.

Social Security is a very important issue because, once most people retire, their standards of living are tied directly to the amount of benefits they receive. In some cases, Social Security may be their only source of income or it may be in addition to their pension from their jobs. If this is their only source of income, Social Security will be critical to their survival, especially as they grow older.

This makes reforming Social Security a very important matter. The changes that are made will have an impact on retirees for twenty, thirty, forty or more year into the future. The million dollar question right now is how it's going to effect the workers of today. Is there going to be enough money in the Social Security Trust Fund to pay their benefits?

People are living longer with each generation. So those who are elected to govern should start making the tough decisions that are plaguing Social Security, stop playing politics, and get to work. Listed below are a some of the solutions that are being suggested.

  • Increase the retirement age by a few years. It not uncommon for people to live to be ninety to one hundred years old or older today so the retirement age may have to go up.
  • Another solution is to decrease the actual benefit payment amounts. This is not an option that any politician wants to consider, but if other options don't work, it may become necessary. This would be the worst scenario for many people who don't have retirement benefits and/or other investment vehicles.
  • There may be the need to hike Social Security taxes. This would add more money per worker to the Social Security Trust Fund. This option is also unpopular because it takes income away from workers who need the money now.

Although Social Security takes up a big chunk of the federal budget and people know and understand that something needs to be done about it, they are reluctant to be the one's who may find themselves in the sights of those who are elected to fix the problem. And no politician wants to suggest taking away or reducing seniors benefits if he or she wants to get reelected.

People want what they want but they are reluctant to embrace change that may effect their lifestyles. They talk about how the burden is being passed on to future generations but they can't come to grips with putting more of the burden on themselves.

There is one thing for sure, though. Someone has to take the lead in fixing Social Security. The time is fast approaching when Social Security is going to have to be debated and if a fix is in order, it will have to be made.

Politicians find it easy to criticize one another over looming federal deficits, but none of them are willing to buck their party's stance. At some point, lawmakers are going to have to sit down together and decide the future of Social Security. Until then, retirees and those who are nearing retirement age are left wondering what the future holds for them.

Contact your local Social Security Administration Office for information about your benefits.

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